Education / Schools

Earlier this week, a story in the National Law Journal (subscription) reported that the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is weaning itself off of public funding and trying to become self-sufficient on private dollars. Towards that end, ASU will be raising tuition and admitting more law students.

I wanted to wait until I calmed down before I posted on it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So I broke into the Bronx Zoo this morning and stole some elephant tranquilizers. I’m going to shoot up and finish this post, now.

[Mmm... serenity...]

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Here’s seemingly every affirmative action conversation I’ve had since I started working at Above the Law:

PLEBES: Affirmative action is racist — reverse-racist. It lets an under-qualified minority get into a school I deserved to get into, just because of their skin color! And why? Because 100 years ago things were tough for blacks? Not fair! [Some quote from Justice Roberts I'll care about the minute I care about what an aging white man thinks about racial harmony in America.]
ELIE: Actually, affirmative action can be justified by simply pointing out that diversity of thought and experience is essential when it comes to educating people.
PLEBES: It should be about merit! [Quotes standardized test statistics as if the LSAT is both objective and a standard of merit.] If you get a higher score on a test, you should get in over someone who gets a lower score. That’s merit!
ELIE: But we know that universities look at all sorts of things when considering applicants. They look at whether you have any other talents like sports or music. They look at legacy status…
PLEBES: [Foaming at the mouth now] Legacies are an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THING. We’re talking about discrimination based on RACE. That’s ILLEGAL!

But maybe people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss concerns about legacy admissions. According to Richard D. Kahlenberg, editor of a new book called Affirmative Action for the Rich: Legacy Preferences in College Admissions, legacy admissions are bad policy — and potentially unconstitutional…

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This zone... does not exist.

They had to set the Karate Kid remake in China. If they had set it in modern-day America, Daniel-san would have been mercilessly bullied by the kids from Cobra Kai, he would have killed himself, and the rest of the movie would have been a courtroom drama where Daniel’s parents sought to bring the evil sensei to justice in the form of a multi-million dollar civil suit.

You see, American children apparently have become so fragile, and Americans parents so litigious, that schoolyard bullying is as likely to be settled in a court of law as it is behind a dumpster out back where boys used to handle their disagreements. I used to tell my mother that nobody ever died from embarrassment, but apparently I was wrong. The ABA Journal reports that there’s been a veritable outbreak of children committing suicide in Ohio because they were hounded by mean kids. And that story doesn’t even take into account the Tyler Clementi situation.

And when kids kill themselves, parents are increasingly turning to the courts to stand up to the bullies in a way that used to be accomplished via a flush crane-kick to the face.

It needs to stop. No, not the bullying — which is unavoidable when more than one male competes for whatever status/prestige/sex is on offer — but the tragic overreactions to the bullying, and the accompanying rush to the courthouse steps.

I say this not as an alpha-male with a caviler attitude towards the feelings of others. I say this as a former omega-male who got the crap beat out of me like I stole something from the age of 7 through the point I realized that no girl would ever mate with a guy who couldn’t basically stand up for himself….

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Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.

Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.

Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”

And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…

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Horribly embarrassing for everybody, but this guy (who topped the 'F*** List')

When Tom Wolfe wrote I Am Charlotte Simmons, he interviewed his Duke daughter and Stanford son about their college experiences, and tried to capture what university life would be like for a highly intelligent, young, innocent virgin at an elite school obsessed with frat parties and athletics. It was an enjoyable read. If you want something similar to that, but a non-fiction version with less innocence and more alcohol, check out An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics.

2010 Duke grad Karen Owen facetiously called it her “Senior Honors Thesis.” I summarized it over at my new bloggerly digs:

Owen kept detailed notes on her sexual adventures with 13 members of Duke’s lacrosse, baseball and tennis teams over the last four years. She then put those notes, along with the athletes’ names and photos into a 42-slide PowerPoint presentation, that concludes with a ranking of the 13 on what she calls her “F*** list.” (Congratulations, I suppose, to this guy for topping the list.)

Owen sent it by email to three friends, and then because it was too brilliant, hilarious, and painstakingly-elaborate to keep among four friends, one of them forwarded it on. Like an STD in a frat house, it went viral…

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Tyler Clementi

Over the past few days, we’ve learned a lot about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers college student and talented violinist who killed himself after his roommate streamed, live on the internet, a hidden webcam video of Tyler hooking up with another man. On September 22, a few days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Former ATL editor Kashmir Hill has learned even more. She’s been tracking Clementi’s digital footprints, and found that he went to a message board for gay men seeking counsel after he learned of his roommate’s prank.

I used the word “prank” because that’s how I see the actions of Tyler Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi is an 18-year-old kid in his first semester at college. Along with a friend, Molly Wei, Ravi pulled a prank on his new roommate — one that went horribly wrong.

Because Clementi killed himself, the media has worked itself into a rabid lather over Ravi’s and Wei’s actions. The story was all over the New York Times yesterday. Michael Daly criticized Ravi so harshly I thought I was reading about some kind of modern day Billy Zabka in the New York Daily News this morning. Some gay rights groups want Ravi to be charged with a hate crime.

Before we crucify this college freshman, I have a couple of questions…

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In a couple of years, we might look back on today as the first point where the giant, unsustainable bubble that is the student loan market began to burst. Check out this press release:

The Student Loan Corporation (NYSE:STU – News), a subsidiary of Citibank, N.A., and a leading originator and servicer of student loans, announced that The Student Loan Corporation (“SLC”) and Discover Financial Services (“Discover”) have entered into a definitive agreement for Discover to acquire SLC, and thereby become the owner of its private student loan business as well as $4 billon of its private student loans. Separately and immediately prior to the transaction, (i) SLM Corporation (“Sallie Mae”) will acquire from SLC $28 billion of securitized federal student loans and related assets and (ii) Citi will acquire from SLC certain federal and private student loans and other assets totaling $8.7 billion. Upon the closing of the transactions described above, shareholders of SLC will receive $30 per share.

So Citi is getting out of the student loan origination business (although they’ll still have some existing loans on their books). I guess they don’t want to be the Lehman Brothers of this failing market…

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I’ve written a lot about the horrible reality of the student loan industry. I’ve talked about how schools have no incentive to keep costs under control, how student debt is the next “credit bubble,” and how student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy (which is ridiculous).

But I’m not good with pictures. Luckily, the people at CollegeScholarships.org are good with pictures. They brilliantly break down the entire student loan racket in one easy to understand graphic.

Look at it; share it with your friends. Send it to parents of kids bound for higher education. If you are wondering why America’s students are in such a bind, here’s all you need to know…

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Martin Luther dropped out of law school - and so can you.

At what point should you give up on your dream of becoming a lawyer? It’s a question on many people’s minds lately. Whether they were laid off during the recession and haven’t been able to get back in, or if they’ve just graduated law school to the triumphant sounds of crickets, people are wondering when it’s time to stop throwing good money (and effort) after bad.

It’s a question some people start asking before they even graduate from law school. With the school year getting underway, returning law students are once again wondering whether or not they made the right choice when they matriculated to law school in the first place.

Earlier this week, Lat received this question from a 2L at a top-eight law school:

Hi David. I’ve got a dilemma and it’s really eating me up and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. Here are the salient points:

* I’m at [redacted] — an awesome school.
* It’s a crappy economy and I don’t anticipate getting a job anytime soon.
* My 1L grades are A-, B+, B, B, B-, B-, B-, B-.
* I’m not sure I really want to spend my life being a lawyer. It seems like such a boring profession.
* I think I would be really happy being a public interest attorney, like working at the DA’s office or on Capitol Hill. I get excited about those jobs — but they pay nothing and are super-hard to get.
* I’m about $70K in debt — so I’ve invested so much!

People tell me that a JD is a great credential to get. I just don’t know if it’s worth it to finish the degree. It’s so darn expensive. Realistically, if I stay the course I’ll graduate with $170K in debt. If I don’t finish, I’ll never have the degree and the prospects that come with it.

I feel that long-term, over a 40-year career, it could be good to have the law degree — it’s from [redacted], not from a lower-ranked school.

Should I finish law school or walk away?

Mwahahaha — David isn’t here, Mrs. Torrance.

Just kidding. Lat is here, and he will answer your question in a second. But first, let Elie explain why you should run, now…

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The class of 2013 probably won’t return to Above the Law in full force until after Labor Day. But a couple of comments on last night’s LeBron James post alerted us to the fact that some of the new 1Ls are here with us now:

Maybe I’m missing something, but on what basis does the court in Washington, DC exercise jurisdiction over Gloria and LeBron? Shouldn’t their lawyers raise this issue before trying to dismiss the suit as meritless?

An ATL veteran provided the credited response:

Glad to see we have newly-minted 1Ls again. Now sit on my [manly man part] while I rub your international shoe.

Yep, it’s back-to-school time. Now that thousands of 1Ls have committed to going to law school, the question arises: What should these people do to get the most out of their legal education?

We’ve got theories, the legal blogosphere has theories, and we’re sure ATL commenters have theories. Let’s help these 1Ls get prepared for what they’ve gotten themselves into…

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